Sunday, January 29, 2017

Lithuania: Teacher fired for helping students with Holocaust film

Via Jerusalem Post (h/t Honestly Concerned):
 It’s not every day that Lithuanian high school students block the entrance to their school to keep out their principal and demand the return to work of a beloved teacher who, in their opinion, was unfairly dismissed. In fact, as far as I could determine, the action taken recently by students at the Laisves (freedom) Gymnasium (high school) in Naujoji Vilnia, a suburb of the capital, Vilnius (Vilna), is unprecedented since Lithuania regained its independence in 1990.

So what prompted this unusual case of student insubordination, which garnered headlines in the largest of the Baltic republics? At this point, we must differentiate between the official version of the story and what appears to be the real reason for the events which took place at the high school several weeks ago. According to the principal, the teacher in question, Marius Janulevicius, who teaches Lithuanian language and literature, had spoken harshly to one of the school’s female cleaning staff, which prompted his immediate dismissal. Such a step might seem unduly harsh, but the real reason for his dismissal apparently had nothing to do with that incident. It was because of an unusual, and unprecedented, film project undertaken by Andzej Davlevic, Dominykas Versalovicius and Deividas Svencionis, three of the school’s pupils, with the encouragement and tutelage of Janulevicius. The film, The Forgotten, commemorates the Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Lithuania.

These same students had originally approached their history teacher with the idea for the film, but she strongly discouraged them, suggesting it would be far better to deal with historical tragedies which had befallen Lithuanians.

“Don’t deal with the fate of the Jews,” was her unequivocal message. But the three boys were determined to deal with the Holocaust and were able to carry out the project in their free time, with the enthusiastic help of Janulevicius.

The film was produced and put online (but has still not been screened at the school), and once it became public knowledge the reprisal from the school came very swiftly – once an excuse presented itself to fire Janulevicius. The authorities, however, did not anticipate the reaction of the students, who rallied to his defense, barricading the school and locking the principal in her office.

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